Don’t Change Your Husband: Divorce in Early Chinese Movies
16 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009 Last revised: 16 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2007
This Article analyzes the depiction of divorce in pre-1949 Chinese movies. During the 1930s and 1940s, a golden age for early Chinese cinema, divorce often figured in movie plots, just as it does in China today. These movies reflect the changing roles of men and women, along with the new freedoms the Civil Code granted women to marry freely and (for the first time) to divorce. Thus, in most of the movies, including the famous Long Live the Missus, it is the wife who initially seeks the divorce or starts divorce proceedings. But the films also reflect ambivalence towards women’s new rights, and only the most selfish of wives actually leave their husbands. The issues these movies raise have much to say to us today, when women’s equality and the true meaning of personal freedom, still imperfectly achieved, remain difficult issues in China.
Keywords: divorce, cinema, China, movies
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